Rams in Big Easy to face very tough Saints team

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Quarterback Jared Goff will be getting just his second start in the NFL and it’s coming on the road against a team with one of the best QBs in the league, Drew Brees. They may be just 4-6 this season, but the Saints are averaging 25 points per game and in five of those games New Orleans scored 30 points or more. The Rams are scoring just 14.9 points per game. The Saints have not put up less than 20 points in a game since their loss to the New York Giants in week two. That’s a big deficit to overcome.

rams5In the Saints’ three-point loss to the Carolina Panther last week, Brees threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. The Rams defense can hold the New Orleans offense to that and could even do better than the Giants did in the second game of the season. In Friday’s post-practice press conference coach Jeff Fisher told the media, “I think you would agree that field goals are wins for the defense. Sevens aren’t good, but field goals are good. You can make a play on defense, or have a big play on special teams and overcome a couple field goals, but you can’t just let them in the end zone as often as they’re getting there.”

On the other side of the ball the Rams will need to score touchdowns to win because the Saints have score at least one TD in every game. Fisher said, “We’re going to have to do whatever we can to score points.”

There have been high expectations of Jared Goff. As the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, people might see him as a miracle worker.  Of his rookie QB the coach said, “He knows what to expect now. He also understands that it’s going to be loud, and we’ve got to use the solid count, and all that kind of stuff. He’s going to have to communicate real well in the huddle, but he’s prepared for it.”

Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams
Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams

The Rams are healthy, by NFL standards. Fisher said, “We’re in pretty good shape. Right now, I’m expecting everybody to play. Considering what other teams are going through, we’re in good shape.”

Center Tim Barnes missed practice but Fisher believes he is ready to play. “… he’ll play. I think he’ll be back on the practice field next week, but I think ‘Timmy’ will be ok in the game. He’s smart enough, and has enough snaps under his belt to where you can trust him to go out there and play with them. In the meantime, Demetrius (Rhaney-Center/guard) gets a lot of great reps at center, while Tim has been out. But, we’re healthy, which is good.”

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams won a Super Bowl with the Saints, but he hasn’t coached a team in the Super Dome yet. “My oldest son lives north of New Orleans, so I’ll get a chance to see him, too. He works in the league office now, which is always kind of cool. He was on my staff when we were down there with the Saints. This is the first time going back down there and coaching. Really looking forward to it, got a lot of great memories, a lot of good feelings, a lot of good people there that I still stay in contact with.”

Williams knows something about the Saints QB, “ there’s nobody I’ve been around that’s more precise in what they do, go about the profession the way he goes about it. He’s at the building at 5:30 in the morning. MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursday, he might leave at 10:00, on Friday nights he doesn’t stay, very seldom does he get out of there (before) 11:30 and midnight on Friday nights. One of my fondest memories was in the Super Bowl (with) him, it’s 10 minutes before curfew and I go up and I’m looking at all the rooms to make sure there’s nothing left in the rooms and stuff, on the ground, and he’s in there doing the first 15 (plays) to video — nobody around, chairs out of the room and he’s playing the game the night before the game. He presents challenges because of his understanding of the game. It’s always fun to compete in practices with him and now in a game. And I had a chance to compete against him in games before I ever went down there, too. He’s been in the league a long time.”

Rams Wide Receiver Tavon Austin
Rams Wide Receiver Tavon Austin

One of the big problems for the Rams has been penalties. Two 15-yard penalties cost the offense and defense a lot. Earlier in the week Fisher said, “Each one of the 15-yard penalties in the two-minute drives were significant. I’ve done two-minute studies for years and the one way to pretty much assure giving up points is have a 15-yard penalty on defense and not giving up points is to have a 15-yard penalty on offense. There’s a lot of factors when you look at two-minute offense — actually, sacks will trump penalties, but we didn’t get any sacks. They were definitely costly, the penalties.”

Can the Rams play mistake-free football against the Saints? Probably not, but they need to minimize the errors — and score touchdowns to win this game, which they have done on the Rams first possession today: a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin. That’s one milestone off Goff’s list: his first regular season touchdown pass as an NFL quarterback.

Photos by Claudia Gestro
Top photo: Jared Goff after practice on Wednesday

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UPDATE: The Rams offense showed great improvement against the Saints, with Jared Goff throwing for three touchdowns: to Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt and Lace Kendricks. They all came in the first half. Along with his success, Goff also had one pass intercepted and lost a fumble.

In the second half it was all Saints. They kept the Rams from scoring any points while their offense added three more touchdowns to the four they scored in the first half. The New Orleans offense welcomed defensive coordinator back to the Big Easy by scoring seven touchdowns on his defense.

Drew Brees has now thrown for 30 touchdowns this season, the ninth consecutive time he has done so in his career. He now joins Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only QB’s to throw 30 or more TDs in nine different seasons.

The final score was 49-21, New Orleans Saints.